- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Correspondent or collateral damage? Faced with the possibility of dying in an air raid or being taken hostage, some leery journalists are leaving Iraq and a potential arsenal of blockbuster stories.
Both ABC and NBC have ordered reporters and crews to leave the country before the action turns hostile. CNN has left two correspondents in Iraq, and CBS has kept one.
"The harsh fact is that a dead journalist can't do the job, can't gather the facts, can't report them to the world," William L. Winter, president of the American Press Institute, said yesterday.
If Pentagon rumors leaked to the press are true, 3,000 precision-guided bombs and missiles will fall over Iraq in the first 48 hours of conflict 10 times the number dropped at the onset of the 1991 Persian Gulf war.
Still, it causes a quandary, Mr. Winter said, among "journalists whose every fiber screams for them to stay in the middle of the action." They must "balance the dangers against the possibility of being able to do real journalism," he said.
A template for war coverage doesn't exist, said David Rhodes, director of news gathering for Fox News. The network was expelled from Iraq last month for reasons Mr. Rhodes did not disclose.
"We're figuring out how best to cover this, and it won't be like the [1991] Gulf war. Back then, the U.S. wanted to get the Iraqis out of Kuwait," he said. "Now, there is a regime change at stake, and a change in politics. That will call for a whole new approach."
CBS correspondent Lara Logan has remained in Baghdad, though her status is being assessed constantly, said a network spokesman.
CNN veteran reporter Nic Robertson and producer Ingrid Formanek are staying in Baghdad; both were in the city during U.S.-led air raids 12 years ago. Correspondent Rym Brahimi also will remain.
In addition, CNN has three reporters in Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq, six with military units and nearly 200 personnel in the Gulf. CNN also announced an exchange deal with the Boston Globe and New York Times yesterday that allows the network to highlight the papers' reporters on camera.
Meanwhile, Baghdad is no journalistic ghost town yet. A motley group of print and broadcast reporters remains: The Cox News syndicate has two correspondents in the city, the Christian Science Monitor has one, and Reuters news agency has a staff of 20.
The New Yorker and Vanity Fair magazines have Baghdad reporters, while Harper's magazine will send a pair of writers on a drive from Jordan through Iraq, and "improvise," according to the New York Observer.
News organizations elsewhere are staying spare and flexible. The BBC will keep an eight-member crew in Baghdad, moving from the Official Ministry of Information a potential target to a low-profile hotel.
Intent on "humanizing" the war, Britain's ITV has asked a local Baghdad family to keep a video diary and will allow viewers to phone in questions to front-line ITV correspondents.
Mr. Winter said combat-area journalists face "tough barriers," including the dizzying pace of high-tech warfare, news blackouts and physical threats.
"Accounts generally will be mere snippets," he said. "It's not possible for any reporter to see the big picture in such a conflict. What readers and viewers have to do is piece together all these snippets into a comprehensive picture of what's going on over there."

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